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Thomas Gray

(1716-1771 / London / England)

Thomas Gray
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Gray's father was a scrivener while his mother and aunt kept a milliner's shop. He led a quiet, studious life in the main, training in law after his degree at Cambridge and then becoming a history done at Peterhouse.

Gray formed a friendship with Walpole which was broken off as a result of a disagreement during a "Grand Tour of Europe" (1734-39), though they were eventually reconciled in 1745. This friendship was important to Gray's literary career and Walpole later published The Progress of Poetry and The Bard, an impassioned summary of English history, on his Strawberry Hill Press. Gray sent his Ode on the Spring to an Etonian friend, Richard West, who died shortly afterwards, ... more »

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  • Rookie Robin Barton (5/1/2010 9:17:00 PM)

    My comments are more on the poem, 'Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat' than on thomas Gray.(who also wrote 'Elegy Written in a Cpuntry Churchyard') .

    The Ode is a beautifully sad poem that yet manages to be delightfully comical through its use of language: It has some of the qualities of mock epic poetry in which the trivial is elevated to the near-grand. The cat is elevated to near human status by such words as 'reclined', 'beard', 'purred applause, 'nymph', and 'presumotuous maid''. Similarly the goldfish are elevated to grander status by such descriptions as 'angel forms', 'genii of the stream' and 'scaly armour'. Even the goldfish bowl is seen comically as containing a 'lake', 'tide', 'stream' and 'flood' which is further elevated by being imagined to contain such mythical entities as a 'watery god' (Neptune? !) , Nereids - and a dolphin! Even Fate is imagined as a cruel god causing the tragedy and smiling as it occurs. The moral that all that appears attractive is not to be trusted is comically and teasingly sexist: 'ye beauties' are to beware of the temptations of (presumably male?) flesh. For me this is favourite comic poem.

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